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We awake at 6:30am in the Thunderbird Lodge just outside Chinle, Arizona. However, its not really 6:30am so we’re off an hour, because we are in the middle of the Navajo Reservation and the Navajo Reservation is on Mountain Standard Time while the rest of Arizona is not. In the parking lot on the way to breakfast in the lodge we meet.
We are joined by our host Dave Wyman, yet another Dave, his friend and our driver Jean, Dave our videographer, Michael Robertson of Velodramatic, Dominic and his wife, Cherise. Dominic and Cherise drove from Salt Lake City on their way to Phoenix to meet up with us. They are friends of the project but we’ve never met them before and they’ve never met Dave and Jean before. For that matter we’ve never met Dave and Jean before. In spite of this, or maybe because of this, breakfast is quick, interesting and enjoyable. We all recommend the blue corn pancakes.
The 103-mile ride, despite most of it on major roads, is sufficiently breath taking. Rock formations and high pillowy clouds floating through unadulterated blue. Purple, pink, dust-storm tan and several dozen variations of red everything, like grasses, rocks, ledges trees and soil. All of it a gradual, natural and romantic succession of the American Southwest.
Everywhere we stop, trading posts, markets and Navajo taco stands we meet friendly Navajos with names like Norman, Howard, Albert and John Smith. We know firsthand about southern hospitality and here in the middle of mesas and canyons and washes in the middle of nowhere, we experience time and again the same kind of open, helpful curiosity.
Somehow, but just barely, we complete the ride in less than ten hours. This, in spite of Pierre’s near leg-breaking encounter with an unusually deep cattle guard at mile 15. In spite of Hahn’s five flats—numbers 2, 3 and 4 accompanied by tube patching and numbers 2 and 5 coming at the very same gas station/market making for an acute and collective déjà us. And, even though most all of us stopped mid-screaming descent to climb a series of dark, chiseled foot and hand holds built like ladder into a three hundred foot petrified sand dune. Then, after a quarter-mile mountain bike ride on the edge of a canyon wall to take pictures of ancient ruins.
A stunning day with great friends, powered in large part by Dave Wyman’s salt table resurrection at mile 50.
"We (Navajo) don't have a word for goodbye" - Howard
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX
- RT @elstopbanana: Here's Kristian House @raphacondor at last night's @TourSeries picture by Sue Howlett Great racing! @SoTCityCouncil http:…
- RT @sticky_bottle: Meant to say, to be eligible for the @raphacondor team car compeition you have to be a stickybottle twitter follower!
- RT @sticky_bottle: OK folks; nice morning for it. To win a day in the Rapha Condor JLT team car on the Rás last stage, Sunday, just retweet…
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries
- 2 be clear that was @johnherety decision to not let @AaronBuggle start. Tour of Korea and Irish National Champs will be his next rendezvous
- Happy to report @AaronBuggle is as good looking as ever after 13 stitches in his chin. Sorry to report not letting him start tomorrow though
- @flammecast @AaronBuggle His Shrone is fine !!!
Where else can you feed a pack of Reservation dogs (shepherds cut with dingo or the like) three mint Clif Bars?